When I am a rich girl

Item no. 1 on my list of “Things I wont ever do on my own again once I become independently wealthy”?


This is not a good look.


Can somebody please pass me a headband?

I recently announced to the world that I was thinking about dying my hair blond. This proclamation elicited a rather lack luster response, (with the outlier reactions ranging from completely agog, to shock and terror.)

Seeing as though I am giant chicken, this morning I completely reneged on this idea, and I re-dyed my hair 1.5 shades away from black.

(Does anyone really know what blackest brown even means?)

So thanks to L’Oreal, I’m back to my raven headed self.

And if I go outside, children will be afraid to touch me.

Ah well, I’m wearing a sundress, and eventually all this will be washed away.

(Especially the hair dye. In fact, I’m counting on it.)

Have a great, great weekend you beauty cats!

Baby when the lights go out

Hi friends!

Did you all celebrate earth hour this past Saturday?

We managed to do some major tea light damage over the course of the evening.

Mr. M, crossword ninja.

Seriously, we had many, many candles aflame throughout the living room, and those tiny bright lights brought quite the kind glow to our little home; all in all it was truly a lovely way of passing the night, all bundled up in blankets, and crouched over our crossword.

Though I would be lying if I said there weren’t a couple of close calls, what with just how many tea lights we had going at our peak burnage, and, well, you know, the innate flammable quality of newsprint.


Nymeria pays no mind! She is a ninja cat.

Factor in that we couldn’t really see all that well, (and had to hold the flames pretty close to the clue boxes to make sure we could actually read what they said) and it’s pretty darn commendable that we weren’t consumed by an inferno of our own making.

We even got the chance to do a little story telling.

Here’s a taster of something we’re up to (on our gosh-darn, no-good end):

The city feels old. 

My glasses are scratched but even from way up here, I can barely make out the mason jar skyline.  There is too much dirty glass, cut against the rusting sunset, which bleeds into the eastern coast’s rushing waves.  I watch as they bury the dead – two thousand grayhairs – beneath a concrete blanket, their mouths hang open, as if they simply lie there, suspended in mid-breath.  I think of how cold it must be beneath the streets.  Their wedding rings will wash down the gutters, along with the soft silt that used to stick to the corners of their eyes, rubbed away with the early mornings they’ve now left behind.  Tonight the wind blows in from the west, and I move from my balcony back into the apartment. 

It’s Curfew.

Everything smells of mold and mothballs.  I pick up the rough spun blanket, folded on the floor and wrap it around my body.  The electric thrum coming from Maggi’s apartment makes my heart quiver – it feels sticky and unsatisfied, suspended inside me. 

It too feels old. 

The kettle jumps on the stove.  I wanted to make tea, but all I have is chickaree root, so heavy on the tongue and stomach.

“I want some tea babe.” Tom turns to me and cracks his neck. 

“Yeah. Me too.”  I walk over and turn off the element.

“Money, money, money,” he mutters, rolling his shoulders clockwise, and then counter.

I walk over to his chair, unwrap myself from the blanket, and lay it over the length of his body.  With it tucked up around his chin, he looks like the men in all my fathers’ photos from his days at the barbershop. 

“I wonder what beards felt like,” I mutter. Tom doesn’t say anything, knowing that I’m talking to myself.  “I’d like to think they felt like velvet – or a freshly brushed cat.”

I reach out and trace the outline of his cheekbone, so smooth it’s almost raw. 

“Hey now, whatcha doing?” He looks up at me.

I stop. 


“You’ve got this really sad look in your eyes.  Like you’ll never know the taste of tea ever again.” He trails off.

“Shut up,” I say.  “I don’t care about the tea.”

“Goodbye sweet pekoe!  I hardly knew your sweet, sweet taste!”  Tom reaches behind and tickles my ribs. 

“Don’t be a jerk!”  I swat at his bruised fingers but still, his hands are strong, and he takes hold of my waist and lifts me into his lap.  I take his hands in mine, and instinctively peel back the hardened strip of skin atop his left hand.  I probe at his panel, and its sickly tangerine glow, such a stark contrast to the coal of his skin. 

“You need to get this checked out.  It’s looking really infected.”

“Nah.  It’s fine.” Tom again rolls his shoulders and rustles his arms further, tighter, around my body.  “I told you already, there’s nothing to worry about.”

I lean forward.  He tightens his grip. I can feel his abdominals contracting against the center of my back.

“What has it been?”  I whisper. “Six months?”

Tom pushes me off of him.  “I don’t want to deal with this right now.”  He stands and walks away into the kitchen. 

I follow him in and start to put away the dishes from drying rack.  The compost steams to the left of my knee. 

“The company’s the one that paid for it in the first place! Right?” I ask, knowing that I’m right. “It can’t be that big of a deal!”

I look at his back, turned to me and trace the outlines of his shoulder blades with my fingers, flexing against each of his movements.

“You’re a superintendent.  They’ve got to understand this!”

Tom pulls away and begins to poke around the icebox, pretending to look for something.  There is nothing but freeze dried fruit and some black bread. 

I follow him.  I know I should drop it, but my tongue keeps pushing words to the front of my mouth, that no matter how hard I try, they won’t stop falling out.

“It smells infected, it looks infected.  Seriously, if you’re not going to do anything – ”

Tom turns around, brandishing a thick sack of frozen peas. 

 He presses the bag on top of his hand.  I can hear the sizzle of the heat making contact with the cold plastic.  He draws in a deep breath, his eyes bulging, teeth clenching. 

“There.  Happy?”

I come up behind him and slam the icebox shut.  I grab the now almost completely defrosted peas from his hands and flail it about, dramatically.  “Well that seems healthy, now doesn’t it?  A kilo bag defrosted in what, five seconds?  Astounding!  I throw the plastic into the sink.  “I don’t know about you, but I think a jobsite losing their head operator might not go over so well for the company!  So yeah. I’m ecstatic!”

Once I give it a bit more work, and get a little braver, I’ll post a little more.

But in the mean time, here are some things that I bloody-well love:

Heritage walks around New West:

Gotta love me some history.

Good eats:

Burger Heaven. Nuff said.

And pretty treats:

10 dollar cords! A yellow purse! SUNDRESS!

So that’s all she wrote kids.

Enjoy the start to your week, aannnnddd – DANCE! p.s. I’ve entered the twitterverse. Follow me @ethelthedean YAY!

Top tips to get you asked out by teenagers

I’m a twenty-seven year old gal who’s had more teenagers (or those freshly out of their teens) ask her out in the past six years years than, well, the entire time I spent as a teenager.

Now, in the sake of full disclosure, I was a pretty unfortunate looking person for a good chunk of my adolescent years – but even after I got hot as hell, I was still the one making the first move at the beginning of my relationships.

(This, I’m sure, is because people were so amazed by my overall transformation, that they were unsure as to whether or not I was the same person they used to know.)

I kid.

Kind of.

For serious, had I not had ovaries the size of basketballs, I would still be languishing in a sea of unrequited crushes, being tossed about by white-capped waves of sexual frustration.

I was a champ at asking people out (the two times I did it.)

Now, since I wrote earlier this week about how a twenty year old boy asked me out on skytrain last Saturday night, I’ve had quite a few friends ask me what exactly it is that I am doing to have this be a semi-regular occurrence in my life.

I didn’t have a coherent, non-self-deprecating answer at the ready, so over the past few days I’ve given this query some thought, and think I may come up with a probable (but perhaps totally erroneous)  hypothesis.

However, in the spirit of science, I’m forging ahead.

Ladies and gentleman, (but really ladies, because, well, I am one of you) may I present: 

Top tips to get you asked out by teenagers*.

*or those in their early twenties.

1.)    Ride public transit. Ride public transit all the live long day. Not once or twice a week – we’re talking multiple times a day here (and weekends too). Teenagers, for the most part, don’t have a ton of money, so if they need to go anywhere, they take the bus, or the skytrain, or subway, or streetcar, or what have you.

Duh, duh, duh, another rides the bus...

I ride transit all the damn time, so it’s inevitable that I’ll find myself sitting next to someone whom I could have babysat ten years ago, had I not  instead chosen the high school career of Safeway cashier. And because of this inevitability, it is in fact unavoidable that at some point one of them will strike up a conversation with me, and before I know it – BAM!

They want to take you me out to coffee (at bloody 7:45 in the morning.)

2.)    Wear quite a bit of colourful clothing. I notice more and more just how varied in hue and tone my wardrobe is compared to most of the other people who work down town. When I exit the train every morning, and the station is flooded by a stream of black, grey and brown, I am the bright red life boat, carried along by the push and pull of the tide.

1 coat, 2 coat, red coat...

I don’t necessary think that it’s my clothing per say that’s getting me asked out, but since I’m not afraid to experiment with, and wear a ton of colour – in addition to taking different risks with my outfits (wearing traditional mens clothing, and mixing formal with casual pieces) – my style seems to attract a younger demographic.

Teenagers in general like to make comment on my choice in clothing and, or colour palette.

Animal print and stripes.

Then they want to take me out to coffee to talk more about my fashion sense.

3.)    Read science fiction and/or fantasy books. My only caveat being – please, please for the love of pete, read good science fiction and/ or fantasy. None of this Sword of Truth/Sword of Shannara bullshazzle.

That will get you disqualified right out of the gate.

(However you’ll gain ten points if you read your sci-fi books on the bus.)

But to get back on topic: teenagers always want to talk me up about the books that I’m reading, but particularly if they are of these two genres. They want to talk to me about A Song of Ice and Fire (even back before it got all HBO-ed and coolified); they want to talk to me about Terry Pratchett; they want to talk to me about Richard Matheson. (Okay, so that last one’s more horror that anything else, but we’ll have to let that slide.)

Even Mr. Penguin wants to talk about Game of Thrones.

They want to talk to me about books and then take me out to coffee to talk about books some more.

4.)    Laugh to yourself. Whether you’re walking down the street, riding transit (seriously, RIDE IT!), sitting in a coffee shop, or waiting in line at the grocery store, be so completely lost in your own thoughts that you bust up your own gut like a busting thing.

I love to laugh. ALL THE TIME.

Older people will think your completely bonkers (and rightfully so) but teenagers want to know what’s so funny.

And they’ll want to take you out for coffee.

5.)    Quote the crap out of movies and TV shows. I was on transit once (did I mention that you should probably ride transit?), talking on my mobile, TO MY HUSBAND when I said, “that’s, just like, uh, your opinion…man” and the fella sitting to my right, spoke up literally, the second that I  hung up, wanting to talk more about the Big Lebowski (aka re-enact the whole movie for the remainder of our ride.)

And then he wanted to go to a coffee shop, to re-enact our re-enactment – just in case we missed a part!


He was pretty surprised when I declined, citing the fact that I was, you know, a married woman.

Which brings me to my last point:

6.)    Wear a wedding ring. First, teenagers don’t look for wedding rings, so they are basically a moot point. Second, the longer I remain married, the more teenagers ask me out. And third, most of the teenagers who’ve asked me out haven’t cared when I told them that I am forever removed from the dating scene.

Ring around the rosie...

They all want to convince me of the reasons why I should no longer be married.

Over coffee, of course.

So there you have it ladies – six, very simple tips on how to increase the number of your youthful suitors.

But, let me finish off by saying this. Don’t wait around for someone else to make the first move. If you like somebody, go-go-gopher it.

It’s always better to know, and heck, if they like you back? Well, there’s no better feeling in the world.

Seriously, I’ll tell you more about it.

Tea anyone?

And I ran – I ran so far away

On Saturday Mr. M and I completed a run that has pretty much crippled me (almost three days out at that.)

In preparation for Tough Mudder – a race we’ve signed up to participate in this June, we’ve been ramping up our training sessions and pushing ourselves harder than normal when it comes to our workouts.

(We’ve also signed our lives away just in case either one (or both) of us croaks on the course. If any of you have anything to tell us between now and the 23rd of the month, speak now, or forever hold your peace.)

He’s been focusing on running longer distances, and I’ve been working on building strength and gaining speed.

I’ve always loved to run far. I’ve just never like to sprint. What’s the point in going all out (or pushing your body to failure) when you have 10+, 15+, 20+ kilometers to cover?

The only time I could really do that was with a finish line in sight and the entire course length at my back.

But like I said, I’m moving (slowly, but surely) out of my comfort zone.

Saturday morning broke cold, but the air lacked the chill that has defined these long, past winter months. The grey sky spackled by coal coloured clouds, dripping fat drops of rain onto my ponytail, on the peaks of my cheekbones, and in between my eyelashes.

I put on, and took off my toque three times before leaving it behind.

We ran a quick 4k up the (continuous) hill to New Westminster Secondary School’s track. It’s a fabulous surface – soft, spongy, with enough bounce and give – well maintained and well visited on that murky, moody morning.

We ran three 100m all out – my lungs on fire, my legs like jelly, my arms flailing like two propellers, free falling, faltering.

Sucking in air to cool down my screaming brain.

It had been so long since I ran like that – I don’t remember the last time I gave until there was nothing left to give.

A young boy, running laps, while his older brother skulked around the soccer pitch in the middle of the stadium, stopped in amazement and yelled out “WOW!” as M and I tore down lanes six and seven.

You should see how quick M is – he is the Road Runner, or The Flash – all burned rubber and singed tail feathers.

After we finished at the track, we completed the rest of our 10k loop. Our pace was very fast – sub 4:30 per km. And believe you me, by the end, the loop had finished us.


My earliest running memory is from about the age of four.  I am at a park with my family: my mother, father, and two sisters. 

The summer breeze ripples through the weeping willows, dandelions poke their sunny faces out of the uncut grass and I am tearing around the periphery, again and again, like some pint-sized Orestes, keeping my furies at bay.

Having challenged my parents to a footrace, one, two, three, four times, they eventually, gently, encouraged me to run a lap on my own, so they could catch their wind and perhaps formulate a plan on how to deal with their budding long-legged lollopper.

One lap turned to two, two to three, and they practically had to tie me down when it was time to go home.

Speedy Gonzalez my father would always call me.

Ariba Ariba! I’d reply, before attempted to dash off, barefoot and wild-eyed to complete another tour of my make believe stadium, for make-believe admirers, and fans.

When I was eleven, my father began taking me out for runs with him, down at Jericho beach.  Summer mornings spent running the gravel path between the “nice” concession stand and the start of the hill leading up to UBC, trying to match my stride to the easy flow of my father’s.

Mr. M's and my running course while we lived in England. Edgbaston reservoir.

Every day trying something new, maybe running a little farther or sprinting a little faster, trying to control the rhythm of my breathing and becoming comfortable with the beat of my heart.

We watched Chariots of Fire together.  I analyzed the men as they sped around the school courtyard, racing the clock, racing each other, racing their fears, racing themselves.

As a teenager I ran before school, after school.  Like Forest Gump said: I was going places.


I read about Atalanta, the completely kick-ass (in my opinion) Greek deity who refused to marry anyone who could not beat her in a footrace.  Those who tried and could not would face decapitation and many, many suitors lost their heads in their attempts to win her hand.

When I grew up, I wanted to be her.

Dancing like a dancing thing (either that or it's my Bluth chicken impression) after my first half-marathon.

My love for running has helped heal me.  It pushes me; it has made me grow not only as an athlete but as a person.  It has introduced me to new people and reunited me with old friends.

But more importantly, it is my form of meditation and calm; it provides an outlet for the voices in my head and a space for new ideas to percolate and brew.

It gives me an opportunity to create change and be inspired.  It allows me to inspire.

Running moves me.

So tonight, despite tight hamstrings, and tender collar bones; aches in my back, and no-laugh abs, what did I do once I got off the metro, having just left work?

I went for a run.

And I’ll continue to do so. Maybe tomorrow. Definitely the day after that.

This weekend I’ll push it again, harder this time, with Mr. M, my running partner in crime.

Seriously folks – we are two tough mudders.

We are runners.

Postcards from St. Petersburg

Spotlight: Russia

I left for St. Petersburg in June 2007, having won a scholarship to attend a two-week long literary conference. 

With my fledgling Russian backed by a 100-level textbook and a second hand travel guide, I landed in city that has the capacity to enrapture you, shock you – change you – if you give it the chance.

Myself and the great Alexandr Sergeyevich Puskin.

This is a snapshot – one day of my travels:

Nevesky Prospekt is the largest street I have ever seen.

Kazan Cathedral, on Nevesky Prospekt.

It is a six lane free for all, with luxury cars, fold-up minivans, off duty cabs, soviet era trolley cars and the odd, slightly-crazed biker all jockeying for position on the road.

The street is flanked by pink and green palaces, whose thinning paint and rust-stained statues compete for your attention with multi-coloured, cavernous cathedrals, renovated, glistening pharmacies (whose windows advertise the sale of anti-cellulite cream) and extravagantly priced furriers that require a password upon entrance.

On the sidewalks sit the legless ex-soldiers, wearing their cigarette stained army uniforms, silently staring at their skateboards and starving dogs.  I like to walk the two blocks to the bookstore on the corner of Gribeodov Canal, just to stare at the Church of Spilled Blood.  It is a kaleidoscope of grotesque baroque and neoclassical absurdity.

One block of Nevesky Prospekt.

As I make my way to the university, I smile at the dedushka who parks himself outside the twenty-four hour “Kafe haus.”  I have never seen someone play a saw with a violin bow before.  His thick glasses reflect the glare of a neon sign blinking “cigarettes!” from across the street.

I think about buying apple blini from the vendor across the road.

Russia makes me both homesick and brave.  The first time I rode the metro, I was by myself.

This was no mean feat.

Over two million people take this form of transit every day.  At some stations, you can’t see where the trains are coming from, because station doors (which control the the train doors) do not open until the cars come to a complete stop, in order to prevent people from killing themselves on the platforms.

Also, because Peter the Great had his city built smack dab in the middle of a soggy bog land, the station is almost one hundred meters below ground, and when I took a photo at the top of the escalator, I couldn’t see the bottom.

The view from the top of the escalator.

In order to purchase my zheton (fare token) I cue up with what approximately two hundred others.  Our bodies are packed together, and I’m not sure what line I’m standing in.  We are a sea cacophony.

I clutch my rubles so tight that I can’t get the smell of the copper coins out of my skin for almost two days.   Voices buzz and squawk out of every possible channel.  It discombobulates.  Overhead speakers crackle, cell phones yammer, children cry, students gossip.

My roommate Laura told me that she is afraid to descend this far underground, for fear of an earthquake.  She doesn’t want to meet any of the 40,000 Swedish POW’s whose bones act as cement for the St. Petersburg metro, its cars and their tracks.

When I finally make it to the front of the line, the woman behind the (what I think has to be) bullet proof glass looks as though she has been living in her cubicle for the past three days.  Boredom is etched in her face: thin lines crisscross the width of her forehead and a sheer glaze coats the contours of her eyeballs.  Stands of hair spill from her sloppy bun, and her blouse is done up Samedi-Dimanche with the top buttons askew.

Her slightly-parted mouth looks to be stuck permanently in mid-yawn.

“Odna zheton,” I tell her, slipping the money through the tray.  She doesn’t even look at me, as she passes me back one tiny metal token.  I immediately slip it into the slot of the turnstile to my right.  Amazingly I am granted the right to pass.

Next time I’m taking this bus. (Straight to outer space of course)

Visions of large, moustachioed men looming out of invisible corners, interrogation chambers and confessions slips slink back into my subconscious.

It is only now that I realize how hard my heart had been beating; with each breath I take, I can feel it punching again and again against the fabric of my t-shirt.

When the train comes I walk into the car and sit down.  As it begins to move, the sensation of the ride feels the same as back home.  Indeed, everyone around me looks the same as back home.  Everybody is minding their own business and pretending that they cannot see the other passengers, just the same as back home.

However, I count the number of stops until I have to get off because unlike back at home, I cannot understand the station announcer.

She speaks too fast.